A Dining Etiquette Tip You Need to Know


Aside from napkins on lap, this every day table manner is important to know: Never leave your used utensil on the table.

Where should you put it when resting between bites or when finished? I’m so glad you asked!

When you are done with a meal, your knife and fork should be placed side by side, across your plate in the 10 o’clock and 4 o’clock position. This is called the finished position and allows wait staff to know that you are done with your meal and they can remove your plate.

If you wish to rest between bites to talk, use your napkin, take a drink or just digest and enjoy the conversation, the same across the plate position is used, but the knife and fork are not side by side. They are further apart and slightly higher on your plate. This is called the resting position.

Both of the above guidelines are for the American or Zigzag style of dining, used only by Americans and Canadians. The European or Continental style of holding your utensils is used by nearly the rest of the knife-and-fork-using-world. It calls for the knife in your right hand and fork in your left, wrists resting on the table between bites. The finished position for Continental style is the same as American style, except the tines of the fork face down (as seen on the right in the picture below). The resting position has the fork facing 2 o’clock and handle at 8 with the tines pointing down, while the tip of the knife faces 10 o’clock and handle 4. The knife and fork cross over each other (as seen on the left).

Please comment below or e-mail me at Kelly@EtiquetteforEveryday.com  with your questions regarding dining etiquette. It might be a great future blog post idea and I always love hearing from you!

Mind Your Manners,


  1. Great information. Will be travelling to Europe in the Fall and didn’t know the Continental style is different from the American and Canadian.

    Thank you.

    • Kelly

      Glad the blog was helpful Stewart. Have an amazing trip this fall!

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